Travel has caught up with a LOT of people these days. In fact there are close to one billion tourists traveling across the globe every year. Given these statistics, it is important to address a huge aspect of travel which has not been talked about much – responsible travel.
The world has offered you history, culture & nature and you are among the privileged lot that gets a chance to explore as much as you can. It is time you understand your footprint and try to minimize the impact of the same on the planet and the surroundings you visit.
This is especially true while visiting a site of heritage, since it has taken lot of time, labour and effort to restore and preserve history – and you can do your bit in helping maintain it.
1. Carry Your Own Water Bottle
Take a re-usable water bottle from home. If you don’t have one, buy one of those nice shiny steel sippers and you are ready to go. This way you avoid buying at least a million water bottles throughout your journey and instead work towards refilling.
In case you are worried about the cleanliness of the water, buy one of those purifying water bottles like The GRAYL, which removes 99.99% of bacteria from the water!
2. Carry Your Own Garbage Bag
If you are traveling in Asia, you can be sure that most of the places you go to do not have adequate waste disposal systems. You might not find trash bins wherever you need them and sometimes they might not be available in your cheap hotel rooms either.
Also, if you are hiking, remember that the chip cover your throw from the top of the hill, goes straight to the bottom and get accumulated there!
So, carry your own garbage bag. We suggest carrying a cloth bag which could be reused after periodic emptying. This comes handy in a train, bus or even a cab!
3. Rent a Bicycle
When you go to a new place, try to rent a bicycle instead of taking a cab. Most places will have a bicycle rental store and a lot of times you will find one with a roadmap as well. More than going green, a bicycle is a great way to explore to place, it allows you a leisurely pace and the pleasures of feeling the local air against your face. And let us not forget the pleasures of clear views while traveling!
4. Pack light
Make sure you are packing light when you are traveling. Do not throw in unnecessary accessories and heavy stuff into your bags. If your bags are heavy the vehicles carrying your luggage use more fuel and emit more pollution.
Also, if you don’t pack right, you might end up discarding perfectly usable clothes, accessories or gadgets.
5. Use Public Transportation
Always try to use the local transport – buses or trains – in place of cabs and tuk-tuks (autos). Government transports are safe and ideal. Also, you are contributing to carpooling by using these vehicles since they anyways ply across town!
When you land in a place, check the local railways and bus transportation facilities.
6. Book a Green Hotel
If you are the kind of a person that plans in advance and books hotel rooms earlier, why don’t you add this condition to your checklist. Is the hotel you are booking a green hotel (as certified by the local government)? There are several ways to understand if the hotel is a green hotel –
Does the hotel have good waste management systems?
Does it segregate its waste?
Do they serve food in reusable plates, with reusable cutlery?
Do they avoid styrofoam at all costs?
Has the hotel been constructed following green building standards?
Read through the customer feedback and chose a hotel that practices environmental ethics. If you have friends and relatives living nearby, you can consider the option of avoiding hotels in any case.
7. Reuse your Towels and Bedsheets
If you are staying in a hotel room for more than one night, try to reuse your towels and bedsheets instead of giving them for washing or asking them to be changed every day.
8. Do Not Overcharge! And Don’t Use Gadgets Unnecessarily
Remember to unplug your electronic devices after they are charged. Also, try to avoid using your electronic gadgets such a laptops as much as possible. Remember that you are traveling and trying to soak in culture. Switching off would help you imbibe these better!
Also, ALWAYS remember to turn off the lights before you leave your room.
9. If you HAVE to Discard Clothes, Give Them Away to the Homeless
While it is best to use the stuff which can be used, sometimes you might feel like discarding some clothes, shoes, accessories or appliances before getting on the flight back home. If they are in a usable condition, fold and pack them neatly and hand them over to some people who might have a serious need for these.